Say restrictions by landlords are unreasonable
Women living alone in big cities like Bengaluru struggle to find a home as people are unwilling to rent out apartments to them.
Sugandha Agarwal, 25, a software engineer who came to Bengaluru in 2018 for her job, informed The Observer: “For bachelors like us, especially women, searching for an apartment is problematic. You have to look for safe locations, easy commute and… other factors. On top of that, people do not want to rent out apartments to single women for some reason.”
Even if they get an apartment, single women say, a lot of “unreasonable” restrictions are imposed on them. “These… are imposed on us on the pretext of our own safety. They make us feel that being a woman, we have to follow certain rules just because the times are not good. We are asked not to stay out too late. I cannot invite people over as every male friend that visits me is seen as my boyfriend,” Agarwal added.
There are safety concerns too.
Divya Arora, 25, a backend programmer at Infosys, shared: “While I was living in my previous apartment, one night my broker got drunk and entered our flat. He verbally harassed us and asked us to pay the rent. Brokers are allowed free 24hour access to our flats which becomes a major concern for the women living there. They should be more respectful and considerate towards us as we are living alone in a new city.” No action was taken against the broker after the incident.
Single men in the city comparatively have it easy.Sahil Choudhary of HSR Layout said: “While looking for apartments, I did not face a lot of problems. Some of my friends did face some problems, but I easily got one using the app Nobroker.” His landlord does not impose any restrictions on him. “Ideally, as it should be, my landlord doesn’t care about the time I go out or the time I come back or who comes to my flat.”
Aarti Hegde, who has rented out her apartment to single women, said: “People in my building complain about the tenants living in my flat, especially if they are single women. A lot of times I get complaints from my neighbours that the women drink or smoke in my flat. We get complaints that their male friends visit them. Because of such persistent complaints, we often ask the women to leave. Other times, they themselves leave the building as people keep bothering them about their lifestyle.”
There is no law that penalises landlords who deny accommodation to women.
Anagha Kulkarni, a lawyer, explained: “These are private properties, so they can legally deny accommodation to people on any basis. Housing societies make their own bylaws, so there is nothing that the law can do for these women. If the contract that both these parties sign mutually mentions some particular rules and restrictions, then women can do nothing but abide by them.”
The government needs to invest in housing for working women “because as long as they are seeking private properties, they will have to face these problems,” Kulkarni added.
In April 2021, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority earmarked Rs 35 crore to build a hostel for working women at Tardeo, central Mumbai. The Karnataka government has not taken any such initiative yet.